Plastic Free July is here which means this is our opportunity to try a little harder to make switches from plastic to something compostable. Plastic Free July is a global movement that encourages millions of people be part of the solution to our plastic pollution problem so we can enjoy cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.
Plastic Free July does not mean that you have to quit all plastic for the month – that is not attainable in this culture. It’s the little switches like using reusable grocery bags instead of plastic ones or metal straws instead of plastic straws.
While plastic is a big problem that needs addressing like 10 years ago, there are other ways we can be good stewards of the earth.
Remember all of those basic rules that your mother taught you about throwing your trash in the bin and turning off the water while you brush your teeth? Turns out that by listening to your own mom you ended up doing a big favor for Mother Earth.
Helping to save the planet isn’t hard. There are things we do each day without even realising it that contribute to the global cause. Here are 10 small things you can do to save the planet today. They’re so incredibly simple you’d have to be an ecocidal maniac to not!
1. Dad Always told me turn off the lights
Your dad might have thrown a fit about the electric bill when you left your bedroom light on, but when you’re conserving electricity you’re saving more than just money. Using less energy is the number one thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.
Turn off incandescent bulbs every time you leave the room. Turn off fluorescent bulbs if you are going to be gone for more than 15 minutes. The same rule goes for appliances that aren’t currently being used: unplug them to save energy.
2. Lower The Thermostat By One Degree
Utilizing your central heating and AC less can have a big impact on the environment. As with turning out unused lights, lowering your thermostat by only one degree means less carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses released into the environment, and fewer non-renewable resources being used.
By doing this one little thing, you can save 1-3% on your energy bill, which is an added bonus to your thrifty folks. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests setting your thermostat at 70 degrees during the day and 62 degrees at night.
3. Wash Clothes On Cold Setting
Washing clothes is something you have to do every week, so you won’t have to go out of your way to make this one little change. It’s as simple as turning a dial: wash your clothes on the cold setting.
When you use the washing machine, about 90% of the energy used goes into heating the water. Doing laundry on the cold setting is another incredibly simple way to put less stress on the electric grid. The Earth will be happy and your clothes won’t know the difference.
4. Eat Less Meat
By swapping out meat- especially red meat- for a vegetarian menu only two or three days a week can have a huge impact on the environment. Consider this: over 30% of the Earth’s surface is used for livestock production. That means fewer forests. Industrial livestock production generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all the vehicles on the road. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) agriculture is responsible for 18% of the total release of greenhouse gases world-wide (this is more than the whole transportation sector).
Less demand means less supply. Being more meat conscious can shift the scales of climate change and pollution.
5. Get A Reusable Shopping Bag
Plastic carrier bags are neither recyclable or biodegradable. They require non-renewable resources to produce. If they’re not clogging up landfills they’re finding their way into the ocean where they cause catastrophic damage.
You can make a huge difference by purchasing just one reusable tote. Reusable bags made from organic cotton or natural fibers take up less space, can be used over and over, and won’t harm the environment. Find some fun and functional designs in our Eco Shop.
6. Switch To A Reusable Water Bottle
Did you know that 90% of plastic bottles end up spending the rest of eternity in landfills? That is the ones that don’t find their way out to the ocean. Recycling disposable plastic bottles can help, but take it a step farther and eliminate them from your life altogether.
The average American uses about 167 plastic bottles a year. 80% of these never get recycled. That number could be drastically reduced if each one of us switches to a sustainable, reusable water bottle filled with water from the tap. Get your kids on board with one of our cute Eco Friendly Kids’ Water Bottles.
7. Say No To Plastic Straws
Americans use about 500 million plastic straws a day. Like all plastic trash they ultimately end up in the ocean. Over a million marine animals are killed each year as a direct result of plastic waste, often because they accidentally ingest it.
Cut out plastic straws from your life and make a big difference. You don’t need them anyway when there’s an amazing variety of reusable or biodegradable glass, metal, and paper straws available.
8. Hit The Thrift Store
On average, people throw away a whopping 80 pounds of clothing each year. Fast fashion is taking its toll on today’s society. This trendy clothing is often cheaply made and infrequently worn before being discarded. Garbage trucks full of textiles visit the landfill each day.
Contribute to a circular economy by hitting the thrift store or consignment shop next time you feel a shopping binge coming on. You can find clothing that is just as fashionable and probably more unique.
9. Take A Shower
To all the ladies out there, you’re welcome for the photo :).
When it comes to bathing, opting for a shower over a bath is the eco conscious way to go. Showering uses approximately half the water as taking a bath. This also saves you money on heating the water. And reducing your shower time by just 2 minutes can save 10 gallons of water.
Want to take it a step further? Sharing a shower with your significant other cuts your water usage in half (though it might not cut down on shower time).
10. Go Paperless
Raise your hand if you love finding bills in your mailbox. Nobody? Big surprise. Neither does the planet. The logging industry is a big contributor to global climate change and a huge threat to the Earth’s ecosystems.
Nowadays most bills can be paid online, so opt for paperless billing whenever possible. The same goes for bank statements. Many banks will offer incentives for going paperless. We can reduce the amount of solid waste in landfills by about 800,000 tons each year simply by switching to eBilling.
As the mother of four children, including a set of triplets, it is important to me that my family all honor the earth, giving back and preserving the health of our oceans by making small changes in everyday life. Since beginning Ocean Junkies, my entire family has a new conscious awareness of using plastic straws and utensils in restaurants and how it’s related to the trash we see on the beach. It is my hope that through Ocean Junkies and other wonderful activist websites, we can raise awareness about plastic pollution and increase sustainable living by re-using what we have already created and creating from biodegradable and compostable materials.
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